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Sunset over Nagasaki

Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties and Modern Culture

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Resolution
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Step back in time on a 15-day voyage into Japan’s riveting history, from the elegant shrines and merchant districts of the Meiji era in Tokyo to the poignant sites of World War II in Hiroshima to historic castle towns of the Edo period in Kobe. As you trace the shores of Honshu and the islands of the Seto Inland Sea aboard the National Geographic Resolution, venture into the homes of samurai and feudal lords and discover exquisite centuries-old gardens and temples. Take a detour to South Korea to spend a day exploring the ancient city of Gyeongju. Discover Japanese artistic traditions of the past and its vibrant present-day culture. 
Nagasaki cityHiroshima Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb DomeMt. Fuji beyond the glittering lights of TokyoCherry blossoms frame Osaka castleNight view of Kobe Port, JapanThe rugged terrain around UwajimaSunset over Nagasaki
Highlights
  • Delve into the history of the samurai and their feudal Lords
  • Explore the rich cultural legacy of Korea’s Silla Dynasty
  • Visit museums dedicated to artists and traditional handicrafts in Matsue & Takamatsu
  • Get inspired on the art-filled island of Naoshima
  • Meander through the three unique Japanese gardens
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Tokyo, Japan

  • 1 Dinner
Depart on an overnight flight to Tokyo and transfer to your hotel, located steps from the lively Ginza district.

Day 2: Tokyo

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy a full day to get to know this vibrant city, the capital of Japan since the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Visit Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, who brought an end to Japan’s long feudal period. Visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum, then meander through the historic Asakusa neighborhood around Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-ji. Gather tonight for a welcome dinner.

Day 3: Tokyo | Niigata

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Zip north on Japan’s famous bullet train to Niigata, a port city on Honshu’s northwestern coast where the National Geographic Resolution awaits. Settle into your cabin as we take to the Sea of Japan.

Day 4: Kanazawa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Step into Old Japan in Kanazawa, once a powerful city ruled by the Maeda clan. Stroll past the lovely wooden homes of the samurai in the Naga-machi district, where the streets are intentionally narrow and winding to confuse enemies. Then explore the geisha and teahouse district of Higashi Chaya Machi. Next, wander the pathways of Kenroku-en, one of Japan’s designated “three best landscape gardens,” established in 1676 by the Maeda family and developed over 150 years.

Day 5: Matsue

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Follow the coast west to Matsue, situated between a lake, a lagoon, and the sea. Tour the 17th-century Matsue Castle built as a defensive fortress, and discover its clever design elements intended to foil the enemy. Continue to the Adachi Museum of Art, which blends an impressive collection of 20th-century Japanese art with a gem-like traditional garden.

Day 6: Hagi

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the castle town of Hagi, known for its fine ceramic arts, tour the historic district, once home to wealthy merchants and samurai. Stroll past serene rows of stone lanterns at the town’s two Zen Buddhist temples, where the feudal lords of the powerful Mori clan were laid to rest. This afternoon, we chart our course for the Korean Peninsula.

Day 7: Ulsan, South Korea | Gyeongju

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dock in Ulsan, and travel to Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla kingdom and the crown jewel of Korea’s cultural heritage. Packed with the ruins of temples, pagodas, and palaces dating back more than a thousand years, the historic areas of the city have been collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit Bulguksa Temple, a masterpiece of Silla architecture originally built in 528 A.D. At the Gyeongju National Museum, examine jewelry, weapons, and other Silla artifacts. See Cheomseongdae, a seventh-century observatory, and wander among towering royal burial mounds.

Day 8: Nagasaki, Japan

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Long before World War II, Nagasaki was a cosmopolitan trading center, drawing merchants from Europe and China to its picturesque harbor as early as the 1500s. Visit Oura Cathedral, the oldest Christian church in Japan, and venture into Sofukuji, a 400-year-old Ming-style Zen Buddhist temple. Visit Nagasaki Peace Park, where a poignant exhibition illustrates the aftermath of the atomic bomb drop on the city, and see the somber monument erected at ground zero.

Day 9: Kagoshima

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
At the southern end of Kyushu, the city of Kagoshima sits just across the bay from the active volcano Sakurajima. Take a walk in Sengan-en Garden, designed by the city’s ruling Shimadzu clan in 1658 to incorporate the bay and its simmering volcano. After lunch, travel along the Satsuma Peninsula to the village of Chiran, where the samurai designed gardens inspired by their travels.

Day 10: Yakushima Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The diverse ecology of Yakushima Island, including a subtropical coast and temperate rainforest in the interior, has earned this island's World Heritage status. On a hike, discover the island’s ancient yakusugi cedar trees, many of which date back more than a thousand years. Your ship turns north toward the island of Shikoku this evening.

Day 11: Uwajima | Uchiko

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Rise early for a morning hike to Uwajima Castle, one of just 12 original Edo-period castles that remain intact. Continue to Uchiko, once a center of wax production. Take a walk in the town’s well-preserved Yokaichi district, where beautifully crafted wooden merchant homes recall the prosperity of the Meiji period.

Day 12: Miyajima | Hiroshima

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Start the day on the island of Miyajima, home of Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its red torii gate that seems to float atop the water at high tide. In Hiroshima, visit the Peace Memorial Park. See the A-Bomb Dome, one of only a few buildings left standing after the attack, and learn about the city’s dedication to peace following World War II.

Day 13: Naoshima | Takamatsu

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The small island of Naoshima was transformed from a dwindling community to a vibrant art center by Benesse Holdings, which began inviting artists and architects to create a hub for the arts in the early 1990s. Discover the island’s cutting-edge creations, from an underground museum designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando to the famous polka-dotted pumpkins of Yayoi Kusama. After lunch, cross to Takamatsu on Shikoku Island. Explore Shikoku Mur, an open-air museum that showcases traditional building styles. End the day at the Noguchi Garden Museum, which features the sculptures and workshop of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.

Day 14: Okayama | Kurashiki

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dock in Okayama and head for your second of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens”: Koraku-en. Wander paths that wind along forest streams and past traditional teahouses tucked amid maple and cherry trees. See the black-walled Okayama Castle, before continuing to the former shipping center of Kurashiki, where centuries-old rice granaries line a lovely canal. Browse local handicrafts, and visit the renowned Ohara Museum of Art and the 18th-century Ohashi House.

Day 15: Kobe | Osaka | Home

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
This morning disembark in Kobe. Pay a visit to 17th-century Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage known as the White Heron Castle. After lunch, transfer to the airport in Osaka for your flight home.

Ship/Hotel

National Geographic Resolution

Bar
Dining Room
Gym aboard

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$24,650
Cabin
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Category 1
Fore Deck with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair 183 square ft. #406, 408, 411, 413, 415. Standard Cabin Amenities
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Category 2
Fore Deck with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair 205 square ft. #410, 412, 414, 416-419, 421-427
Cabin
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Category 3
Main Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 205 square ft. #512-524
Cabin
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Category 4
Lounge Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa, 205 square ft. #608, 610, 612, 613-623 Standard Cabin Amenities
Cabin
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Category 5
Bridge Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 205 square ft. #708, 709, 711, 713
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Category 6
Bridge Deck—Junior Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed 344 square ft. #710
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Category 7
Bridge Deck—Large Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed, bathtub, walk-in closet 430 square ft. #700-707, 712, 714-717
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Category A Solo
Main Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 140 square ft. #504-510, 513
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Category B Solo
Lounge Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 140 square ft. #604, 606, 609, 611
Included
  • 14 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners
  • 13 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • The Guidance and Company of the Expedition Staff
  • Hotels Ashore as Indicated in the Itinerary
  • Sightseeing & Entrance Fees
  • Special Access Permits, Park Fees, Port Taxes
  • Zodiac & Kayak Explorations
  • Snorkeling, Including Wetsuits, Masks, Fins & Snorkel Where Relevant
  • Presentations and Guest Speakers in the Lounge
  • Gratuities to the Ship Crew
  • Complimentary Parka 
  • Alcohol (except premium brands) 
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Scuba Diving
  • Passport and Applicable Visa Expenses
  • Additional Hotel Nights 
  • Private Transfers
     
  • Expedition Extensions 
  • Laundry 
  • Internet & Phone Charges
  • Regional charter flight fees not included, pricing varies by departure

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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